Route 66 Monarch Flyway


Next Quarterly Meeting:
July 31, 2024 @ 1pm CDT
(Interested in Attending via Zoom? - Contact

Special Guest Presentations - TBA

April's Special Presentation:
Mona Maas, creator of Elkhart’s Pollinator Habitat, on her local efforts to promote pollinator gardens in her community, and Joan Moody on her work with the Lincoln, IL community to establish their pollinator gardens.

Native Plants to Support Pollinators

Elkhart Pollinator Garden

Lincoln Pollinator Garden

Lincoln Pollinator Garden

The Route 66 Monarch Flyway, which the Illinois Monarch Project debuted on November 18th, 2020, is a 66-mile-wide corridor that stretches from Chicago to St. Louis across the state of Illinois. The project is seeking to bring the unique aspect of Route 66 to Illinois’ efforts to the help the monarch butterfly by planting native wildflowers and restoring habitat projects within the corridor. One of the goals of this effort is to bring together all aspects of life in Illinois, which are represented in the four sectors of the Illinois Monarch Project (IMP) – Urban, Agriculture, Rights-of-Ways and Natural Lands. The IMP collaborates with public and private partners, in addition to individuals across the state, to protect and enhance existing habitat and establish new habitat that supports monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

Photo by Ron Kapala

A dedicated committee with representation from Pheasants Forever, Illinois Farm Bureau, McLean County Soil & Water Conservation District, National Parks Service, Chicago Zoological Society, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Department of Transportation, and the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway has been working on the Flyway for a few years now.

When the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway recently hired Casey Claypool as their Executive Director, she has played an integral role in helping the committee get to the point of a public debut.

“My organization was delighted when the Illinois Monarch Project reached out to us for inclusion in this initiative. Surprisingly enough, the combination of two things as iconic as the Monarch Butterfly and Route 66 seamlessly meshed to create this unique opportunity. Route 66 is the most famous road in America and generations of travelers have romanticized this highway as a symbol of unlimited mobility and freedom. Now, with the launch of the Route 66 Monarch Flyway, we can continue to promote the history and nostalgia of the road while working to save the monarchs. The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway is honored to be included in this initiative and hopes to see the fruits of our labor through increased tourism in our over 90 Route 66 communities in Illinois and the explosion of monarch habitats along our shining ribbon of blacktop, that we call The Mother Road,” said Claypool.

Primary Contacts:

Susan Helm
Route 66 Monarch Flyway Project Coordinator
(217) 502-3992

Geoff Ladd

Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Assistant Director
(217) 993-2698

Route 66 Monarch Flyway – Submit Information

NEW- Route 66 Monarch Flyway FAQ

NEW- Route 66 Monarch Flyway Facebook Page

NEW- Route 66 Monarch Flyway Instagram Page


Become a Member of the Route 66 Monarch Flyway
An Illinois Monarch Project Initiative

& Committee of Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway

Supporting Partners:
Illinois Monarch Project

Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway
Pheasants Forever
Illinois Farm Bureau
McLean County Soil & Water Conservation District
Darien Garden Club
Springfield Civic Garden Club
Illinois Native Plant Society
National Parks Service
Chicago Zoological Society
Ace Sign Company
Star Graphics & Media

Annual Membership Levels:
Individual $25
Family $35

Nonprofit Organizations $75
Civic Organizations $75
Business $100
Community $150

Join Online at:

New- Route 66 Monarch Flyway Supporter Signs Now For Sale!

Flyway Supporter Signs
Click here to purchase your sign and support the Route 66 Monarch Flyway.
Proceeds help fund projects by the committee.


Route 66 Monarch Flyway

Route 66 Monarch Flyway Virtual Summit - November 18, 2020 Wrap-Up:

  • Project Overview & Highlights - Introduction of the vision of the corridor
  • Introduce & explain the Route 66 Monarch Flyway - Understand the potential
  • Prepare for the public launch of the project
  • Projects in the Works
  • Identify interests, potential resources and connections
  • Connect leaders and those who want to engage more
  • Think About What is Possible

Next Steps:

  • What might be possible in our region?
  • Where are existing or potential projects?
  • Potential Corporate Sponsors
Route 66 Monarch Flyway Map
Illinois Route 66 Monarch Flyway - 66 miles wide - 33 miles East or West of Illinois Route 66.


Route 66 Monarch Flyway

Be a Part of the Monarch Super Generation!

Whether you are an individual or an organization, make your actions count by adding your pledge here. Pledges will help us estimate our progress toward the goals set forth in the Illinois Monarch Action Plan. The responses you provide here will be used to inform monarch butterfly conservation priorities and practices in Illinois. Your contact information will not be used for purposes other than this pledge, unless otherwise indicated.

Visit the Illinois Monarch Project website and read the Monarch Action Plan (The Route 66 initiative can be found on pages 40 & 41). If you have questions or comments about the pledge, please contact our team at or


Project Wingspan


Elkhart Pollinators



Springfield Civic Garden Club Presentation at Route 66 Experience, Illinois State Fairgrounds

Springfield, IL June 5, 2023 - Springfield Civic Garden Club members Susan Helm and Jerry Morgan spoke to club members about the Monarch Flyway initiative and the pollinator garden at the fairgrounds.

Springfield Civic Garden Club Presentation

Springfield Civic Garden Club Presentation

Springfield Civic Garden Club Presentation

Jerry Miller

Springfield Civic Garden Club Presentation

Susan Helm

Chatham DAR Patriot Pollinator Garden Dedication Ceremony

Chatham, IL May 29, 2023 - DAR members dedicated Veterans Memorial Square park pollinator garden on Memorial Day

Chatham DAR Patriot Pollinator Garden Dedication

                      Area of the park prior to planting

Chatham DAR Patriot Pollinator Garden Dedication

                                                      After tilling the soil, fertilizing and mulching

Chatham DAR Patriot Pollinator Garden Dedication

                                    Memorial Day ceremony at the park, two weeks after planting

Shoutout! From our new co-chair Susan Helm, in Springfield, posted on 5/2/22:

Fun morning mulching the pollinator garden bump outs at Sixth and Adams as part of the Route 66 Monarch Fly Way. Special thanks to Brenda Larison and Susan Taylor. thanks to public works for the mulch.Bumpout Shoutout

Bicycling with Butterflies: My 10,201-Mile Journey Following the Monarch Migration

Outdoor educator and field researcher Sara Dykman made history when she became the first person to bicycle along­side monarch butterflies on their storied annual migration—a round-trip adventure that included three countries and more than 10,000 miles. Equally remarkable, she did it solo, on a bike cobbled together from used parts. Her panniers were recycled buckets.

$5.00 of every sale of this book from the Sly Fox Bookstore will go to support the efforts of the Route 66 Monarch Flyway.

Release date: April 13, 2021

The Slyfox Bookstore
123 N. Springfield Street
Virden, IL 62690
(217) 965-3641


There are several additional ongoing projects along the route including one at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie near Wilmington.  This is the northern anchor point of the corridor.

The Illinois Department of Transportation has been working to remove invasive species, such as common teasel and phragmites, along US Route 53 both north and south of the Tallgrass Prairie.  IDOT is working to clear the road right-of-way of these invasive species to help prevent them from spreading into the prairie.

Veronica Hinke
Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie Public Affairs Officer and Public Services Team Leader
Photo by Michael Kardas, U.S. Air Force Veteran

The Litchfield Route 66 Prairie is another project underway, located south of Springfield. This is the southern anchor point of the corridor.  This project is a maintained prairie remnant that includes a section of the original Route 66 roadbed.

Phase I of the Litchfield Weigh Station Prairie on Route 66 has been completed and the ADA path and parking lot are now done. Photo courtesy Mike Staab.

A volunteer group called the Natural Area Guardians has been managing the site and has recently worked with IDOT to install an ADA accessible path and parking lot. They will be working with other partners including the Litchfield Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center to continue to make Litchfield a destination for Route 66 tourists as well as prairie enthusiasts.

Mike Staab, District 6 Roadside Vegetation Manager at IDOT, sent these photos post construction as he and the Natural Area Guardians inspected the project to begin Phase II, which includes restoration of disturbed areas and signage! April 17, 2020.


Elkhart Monarch event

Elkhart held their Pollinator Week & Elkhart Route 66 Monarch Flyway event on June 12, 2021. Congrats and thank you to the Village of Elkhart! Read about their event last weekend and what they’re doing to help Monarchs along the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway -

Litchfield Monarch habitat

City of Litchfield Tourism sent us updated photos and a video on the Rt. 66 Prairie at Litchfield. She got a great picture of a Monarch while she was there! Photos and video courtesy Litchfield Tourism.

Several projects are in various stages of planning and implementation, and, as long as they benefit the monarch, they are a welcome part of the effort. We kept the definition broad in scope to allow room for creativity of events and on-the-ground efforts. All plantings or restorations are required to use native plants suitable for the site and include milkweed. In several locations, there are discussions about the installation of trails along the historic route, community events that could be focused on the monarch, restoration of public areas and unique collaborations. We are always looking for new ideas and new people to get involved as we build a network along Route 66!